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Famous folk who killed themselves, vol. 2

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A few weeks ago, we ran through some of history's lesser-known but most fascinating suicides (which in the case of Cap'n Lawrence Oates' noble death, let's just call it a "self-offing.") Turns out there's plenty of self-offing to go around, and lots more examples from history. Is this too morbid for a blog with such a happy color scheme? Maybe. But what the heck:

John Kennedy Toole
An American novelist from New Orleans, Toole is famous -- or rather infamous -- for having died in obscurity, only to be rocketed to fame when his unpublished (and brilliant) absurdist novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1981. It's been kicking around Hollywood for years, and was almost made by Steven Soderbergh a few years ago. Like the novel, however -- which publishers rejected because "it isn't really about anything," -- the screenplay is probably a tough sell.

Joseph Merrick
Also known as "the Elephant Man," his suicide is debated -- in the wonderful David Lynch film (The Elephant Man), his death is treated as intentional: his head was so large that sleeping normally -- that is, horizontally -- constricted his air flow. He suffocated, and there's been much speculation as to whether his death was accidental or not. By the way, if you're not clear on why someone like Merrick -- who enjoyed the attentions of Queen Victoria and London socialites of his time -- would be inclined to shuffle off this mortal coil, I think it's telegraphed nicely in one of the great scenes of modern cinema, from Lynch's film:

woolf.jpgVirginia Woolf suffered from depression and, near the end of her life, waning critical interest in her new writing. She chose an awfully strange -- and perhaps self-consciously poetic -- way of taking care of the problem: walking into the river near her home with her pockets filled with stones.

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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
Can’t See the Eclipse in Person? Watch NASA’s 360° Live Stream
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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Depending on where you live, the historic eclipse on August 21 might not look all that impressive from your vantage point. You may be far away from the path of totality, or stuck with heartbreakingly cloudy weather. Maybe you forgot to get your eclipse glasses before they sold out, or can't get away from your desk in the middle of the day.

But fear not. NASA has you covered. The space agency is live streaming a spectacular 4K-resolution 360° live video of the celestial phenomenon on Facebook. The livestream started at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and includes commentary from NASA experts based in South Carolina. It will run until about 4:15 ET.

You can watch it below, on NASA's Facebook page, or on the Facebook video app.

Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former War World II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]


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